This group of Dragons has made believers out of everyone

Times Observer photo by Andy Close Fans react during the state semifinal match between Warren and Knoch at Clarion High School Tuesday. The Dragons have received tremendous support from not only their friends and family, but the Warren County community as well during this run to the state championship.

Going into the 2018 season, the Warren Area High School volleyball team knew they were good.

The coaches knew it, the players knew it.

How good?

How about a trip to the state finals? It’s something that was always in the back of their minds, but the reality of achieving it brought about an entirely different set of emotions.

“There’s no words to describe it,” said se3nior Ellie Lobdell, who, in a great high school career, had perhaps her best performance against Knoch, coming up huge with 16 kills and 21 digs. “I mean I knew we could go far, but I wasn’t expecting this.”

In part, maybe that’s because this team has taken it one game at a time and, to stretch that point even more, one point at a time.

And perhaps it’s also because of their competitive nature of battling for each point.

No one on this team takes a play off … ever.

“It’s like that every day in practice,” said fellow senior Julia Lobdell after a September win over Meadville.

It’s that competitive drive that is a key piece to the puzzle as to why they have gotten to this point.

You’ve seen that, as well as their talent, on full display during this run.

But as people, I promise you that they blow you away even more.

They are humble and kind, and haven’t let any of this success get to them.

They are just enjoying every step along this amazing run that they are on.

No one connected to the program is surprised by their success, but it’s taken them a while to garner the same respect on the state level.

It comes from places like the WPIAL, where the importance placed on winning that coveted District 7 title weighs more heavily than winning in the state tournament, and it’s almost used as a crutch when they lose in the state tournament.

That’s not to say Warren didn’t place the same importance on winning D-10, they certainly did.

But they wanted more, and they have earned more, and done so in dominant fashion.

After the Dragons captured that historic moment they were rewarded by being bumped up from No. 10 to No. 9 in the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class 3A state rankings.

A nice feather in the cap, but more of a slap in the face when teams outside the top 10, including Thomas Jefferson, jumped ahead of them going into states after being unranked.

Of course, that doesn’t matter anymore. And to this team, it probably never did.

Respect is earned, not given, and they have earned the respect of everyone that has stood in their path.

And they have brought the entirety of Warren County along for the ride.

Knoch had a nice contingent of fans make the trip to Clarion.

The Dragon fans in attendance made sure there wasn’t an empty seat to be had, creating an electric atmosphere that brought goosebumps to even the few impartial observers in attendance.

“The crowd was great,” Ellie Lobdell said afterwards. “It was so nice to see the gym filled with mostly all Warren fans.”

And you better bet those same people, plus perhaps a few more, will make the 4-hour plus trip to Cumberland Valley High School on Saturday for the state championship against West York, which has to travel a mere 33 miles.

“There’s going to be so many emotions,” Ellie said. “Mostly just excited.”

They are excited, and everyone in this community is excited for them.


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